What is facilitation and what are the services a facilitator provides?

“Facilitation” means to enable, to make easy.

facilitator is a neutral party who designs a fair, inclusive and open process to balance participation and improve productivity while creating a safe environment in which all group members can fully participate. Facilitation provides support so all voices are heard and understood and is particularly helpful when dealing with controversial issues or matters involving multi-party decision making. The role of a facilitator is to help minimize wasted effort and dysfunctional group dynamics and maximize productivity and efficiency of the group. A neutral facilitator enables groups and organizations to work more effectively, to collaborate and achieve synergy. 

Facilitation of constructive dialogue purposefully designs a process used to conduct multi-party, stakeholder, or public meetings/sessions to achieve your objectives and accomplish your desired outcomes. Facilitation removes the discomfort, obstacles, dysfunctional behavior, and overall heartburn commonly associated with preparing and conducting difficult meetings, information sharing for controversial projects/plans, large public forums, opinionated committee or workgroup meetings and stakeholder involvement roundtables. Facilitation also frees you to become an active participant by removing the planning or time management worries.   

Two examples of facilitation services provided to my clients: 

  1. Apex Clean Energy, Inc. utilized my services as a facilitator for potentially contentious public meetings regarding proposed wind energy projects. Services provided were consultation on items such as; desired outcomes/results for the meeting, meeting format, room layout, Q&A preparation, panelist guidelines, meeting ground rules, as well as practice dry run and facilitation of the 2.5-hour public meetings.
  2. Large work groups or committees striving to reach a common goal such as; Governor Tom Ridge’s 21st Century Environment Commission consisting of 40 members utilized facilitation. The Governor issued an Executive Order which charged the diverse mix of commissioners with the responsibility to recommend methods and policies to improve the environmental quality of the Commonwealth and measure the results, while allowing for enhanced economic and social progress. The Governor further required this 18-month long process to include public input on all proposed environmental priorities, strategies and evaluation criteria. Priority work groups were established and assigned lead facilitators. My services as the facilitator of the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources work group involved: meeting preparation, creation of agendas, targeting and focusing discussions, time management, assuring balanced participation, recording and documenting issues, needs, and recommendations and assisting with the public input meetings.

If you, your business, or your organization is tasked with a potentially difficult meeting, a lengthy project involving multiple parties or a need for public or stakeholder input, facilitation services may lessen your burden, provide focus, increase efficiency, and assure your desired outcomes are achieved. Contact me for a free one-hour consultation to discuss your needs and how COLEMAN-GRAHAM can empower you to succeed!

See also: “Top 10 Scenarios of When to Use a Professional Facilitator” 

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Rita Coleman Graham

Effective communication, sound relationships, and teamwork create the framework for success. Equipped with experience in providing facilitation, training and alternative dispute resolution, I am eager to help you define and achieve your goals.

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